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Hurling or Gaelic football options

We will be traveling from June 17-29. And will start in Kinsale and end in Connemara. I am trying to find an option of seeing one of these sports live but do not know the seasons for the sports, when they play (e.g Saturday morning, Friday night? )or where to look at a schedule or buy tickets. Is this something we have to do in advance? And ideas would be most welcome. We will be staying in Kinsale, kenmare, dingle, Galway and clifden. We are an American soccer loving family and would love to have our children experience this. After seeing Crystal palace play Liverpool last year at Selhurst, we know there is nothing like sport in other nations. Thanks for your help!

Posted by
1450 posts

The professional versions of the sports are under the auspices of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Your best resource for sorting out your questions is their website at Believe the hurling season wraps up in March, not sure about football.
You might have better luck searching out matches between local school or youth league teams. While driving thru small towns on Saturday mornings we usually came upon matches in progress, and just parked the car and walked over to the pitch to take in one of the games - sort of like soccer Saturday mornings in the US.
Could also check with the local TI wherever you're staying. They'll know the local schedules and can point you in the right direction.

Posted by
60 posts

On one trip we stumbled onto "Camogie" which is the women's form of "Hurling." We dropped into some school championship games as we were wandering about.

Posted by
4150 posts

I was hoping to catch a hurling match during a free day we have in Dublin, in early July, but it looks like the timing won't work out for me.

I must admit, as an outsider, I have found the logistics, the scheduling, the process of getting tickets, even the terminology, all somewhat baffling. From what I've been able to figure out (I think), the games or matches are called "Fixtures". The finals (what we in the US would call "playoffs") are at Croke Park (a huge, historic stadium) in Dublin, from late June into September. Major matches in the summer typically take place on Saturdays and Sundays.

You can find the schedule for Croke Park fixtures here: Fixtures at Croke Park

@lisaford22, it looks like you could catch a match at Croke Park if you're in Dublin on June 22 or 23. Lucky you!

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for your feedback. I too found it difficult to navigate the GAA website, most likely due to the terminology difference, but also because I could not find a season schedule through June. Unfortunately(or not), we will only be in western Ireland, so hopefully we will be able to catch something, even if just kids in a playground, playing what look to be fascinating sports.

Posted by
166 posts

Each county also has a GAA website and you can follow on Facebook and Instagram. I’m following Kerry, Galway and Donegal hoping to catch something in May.
There’s also a “hurling experience” in Kilkenny

Posted by
404 posts

L, We were in Dingle the first week of May and just lucked into a Gaelic Football rematch between Dingle and Killarney. It was played on Sunday afternoon at around 1 PM for your reference. This was a playoff game that had ended in a tie in Killarney so they did the rematch in Dingle. The players were 16-25 years old and represented their town in this match and then hoped to be chosen to represent the county in a larger country wide tourney. It was great fun. I had no idea of the rules but we took a seat in the Dingle stand and a 20 something guy was happy to explain the game and keep us up on what was occurring on the field if something unusual happened. It was a complete blast and total fun with local flavor. I had tried as you have to pick through the websites and schedules and it was tough. I suggest when you arrive in each town engage someone in a pub and they will quickly let you know when a match is set. I hope your schedule is such that you are flexible enough to take in a game, if you like local competition you will not regret the time invested. I did a similar thing in Monegilia near the Cinque Terra in Italy and had similar fun at a local soccer match....I avoided the stands there but in Ireland going into the local stand to sit was a great choice. Many of traveling Killarney fans were in the local pubs after the match for some good natured booing. I hope it works out for you, your kids will love it, Gaelic Football is a rougher aggressive high scoring soccer sibling!

Posted by
9 posts

Wow! Sounds like an awesome experience and great advice. We will certainly leave room at each destination to make sure we can Take in a game, if there is one available.

Posted by
8 posts

Your difficulty stems from the structure of the GAA competitions. Basically there are three main codes (game types) gaelic football, hurling and camogie (ladies hurling). Every village town and crossroads in the country has a club and in rural areas it is the focus of the community. The club will have competitions in every age group from 6yrs old up to minors (18yrs), under 21's and then seniors (adults up to the age of "give it up Dad, your only embarassing yourself").
The club teams feed into the county teams - best players from clubs selected to play for county - huge honour. There are two main competitions at club and county level; The League, a points based competition over the winter and generally a testing ground for the 2nd and more important Championship (a mostly knockout based through the summer months).
The issue with fixtures (schedule) is that the 2nd is somewhat based on the results of the first and as a knockout basis its not known yet whos playing who. Also many 18's, under 21's and senior club games are delayed waiting for their best players to return from county training. The county championship culminates in the All Ireland Finals in all codes in September regularly drawing up to 80k spectators for what are essentially amateur sports.
The good news is that there will be plenty of games in June in the areas your visiting. Countywise, Cork do well in all three codes as do Galway. Kerry live and breathe Gaelic football. Any sheep in a field will be able to tell you when a match is on and locals will be happy to explain the rules etc. You'll have no problem with tickets etc for a club game, county games can be more difficult depending on whose playing but your accomodation will generally have a local contact to sort out same as clubs are allocated tickets for county games and there's always a few spare if you ask the right man. Ideally see a Kerry football match or a Cork or Galway hurling game. There will be some effing and blinding but it's all good natured. Pick a side and dont sit on the fence - you'll enjoy the experience more. Make sure to get the pints in afterwards.

Posted by
9 posts

This was so helpful. Thank you so much for your guidance. We are getting so excited. We will definitely check out a match and ask our hosts to help guide us in the right direction. And pints are definitely in the plans😉 Thanks again!

Posted by
317 posts

Greeting from Ireland and one of Ireland's biggest Gaelic Football fans!
In June you'll be in the middle of Gaelic football and hurling season, go to GAA.IE to find the tickets for the big games, but the only game that is sold-out is the 'All Ireland final' in September so you have no real need to go to the website. Attendances have dropped a lot in recent years.
Games are mostly played on Sundays but that's chasing a lot these days.
One very important point - the first post here refers to the professional teams... there is no professionalism in Gaelic spots. ALL players are strictly amateur and play for their country of origin, they do not get paid, no transferring or changing to tother teams allowed either.
"its the spirit of the Gael thats in our games" :)
Le meas/with respect
Stephen McPhilemy
Rick Steves Ireland Tour Guide and 'Donegal GAA fan!"